In a 5-2 vote down party lines, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee gave a favorable report to SB 13, a bill from Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) that would prohibit the removal of historical monuments placed on public property. The bill would also create a committee tasked with reviewing the requests of municipalities interested in removing protected monuments.
Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) voiced opposition to the bill on the grounds that, perhaps, the state should direct its edict only to state monuments, allowing local governments to act in the interest of their cities. Further, she noted the need to provide funding to municipalities to maintain such monuments.
“I understand where you’re going with this bill and your intent,” Coleman-Madison said. “I agree with your intent. I don’t think we need to be about changing history or trying to cover it up. I’m not for taking those Confederate statues down, but I’m not for your bill because I do not believe this legislative body has more wisdom than the people who put [the monuments] there.”
Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) noted his agreement with most of Coleman-Madison’s comments, but added that the need for this bill has arisen out of the public’s disdain for the decision by Gov. Robert Bentley to remove the Confederate flag this year. Brewbaker said that disdain is currently manifesting itself in efforts to place a Confederate flag on a small lot near Alabama State University in Montgomery.
“We’re dealing with an issue in Montgomery right now that’s not going to do anybody any good,” Brewbaker said.
In response, Coleman-Madison again noted the need to provide funding for the monuments.
“If we do this, the state best come up with some money to maintain them,” Coleman-Madison said. “I do think the backlash you’re going to have (will be) some vandalism of some things.”
The committee then voted and gave the bill a favorable report, sending it before the Senate in the coming week.